BFI London Film Festival, 2020 – Short Film Reviews

As part of the 64th annual London Film Festival, the BFI have collated a digital library of short films from around the globe. Exposing Territories, Speculative Futures and We Built a World are just some of the categories showcasing new and emerging talent, both from the UK and internationally. Many of these films focus on contemporary issues surrounding diversity, immigration and sexuality–each offering the individual, artistic voices of this generation.

Ranging from two to forty minutes, these independent films are unique to the BFI library, which continues to celebrate young filmmakers every year–even if no physical festival is taking place. Below are three short film reviews, each tackling racial and sexual barriers:

Buck (dir.Jovan James and Elegance Bartton, 2020)


A debaucherously gutsy piece of LGBTQ+ cinema, Buck faces the New York sex scene head on, zigzagging the line between heartfelt drama and kinky moral subversion. Young Lynn (Malik Shakur)—tangled in a meth-induced frenzy—rejects his meds in favour of his sexual fantasies. With electrically-charged cinematography, saturated in flashes of neon between the perverted shadows, Buck is a raw piece of short filmmaking. Directed by Jovan James and Elegance Bratton, Buck is surprisingly tender at times, studded with bursts of fearless energy that trap Lynn between his two opposing worlds.

Chicken (dir. Alana Hicks, 2019)


Written and directed by Australian filmmaker Alana Hicks, Chicken is a punchy yet heart-warming snapshot into the life of Barbara—a young school girl struggling to fit in. Relied upon as the bridge between her recently migrated mother and their new life in Sydney, Barbara is forced to put her childhood aside, unable to make friends over the latest television hype. Communication barriers and racial stereotyping make even the smallest aspects of life difficult for Barbara and her mother, who are overcharged $148 for their groceries. An inspiring drama, injected with a little humour and zest, Chicken packs a feisty punch before settling into the wholesome Tolai music of their homeland.

Expensive Shit (dir. Adura Onashile, 2020)


A remarkable first short film from upcoming writer/director Adura Onashile, Expensive Shit is a cleverly crafted drama starring Modupe Adeyeye as Tolu—a Nigerian nightclub toilet attendant in a sticky moral dilema. Tolu must choose between saving herself or spiking a young girl–friends with the rich, racist party-goers–whilst men leer secretly behind a one-way mirror. Subtle yet powerfully thought-provoking, Expensive Shit is a telling social commentary on the manipulated injustices that still plague our modern lives today.